South Memphis church recovering from fire, vows to still serve Thanksgiving meals

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A South Memphis church is picking up the pieces after a disastrous fire Thursday night destroyed the church's food pantry just days before Thanksgiving.

As flames covered the roof of Blessed Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, church members like music minister Nellgene Hardrick could only sit and watch.

"It was surreal because we were just there to rehearse and get ready for Sunday service," Nellgene Hardrick said.

Officials said the fire started on the first floor in a malfunctioning furnace. They estimated damages of $100,000.

Bishop Kenneth Buntyn knows the walls can be rebuilt, but with less than a week before Thanksgiving, they're going to have trouble replacing another vital part of their ministry.

"We have a food pantry upstairs, total loss," Buntyn said. "We have a clothes closet, total loss. We were depending on food pantry for Thanksgiving. We do community service every Thanksgiving where we feed the homeless."

Buntyn said his church does everything it can to contribute to the South Memphis community, including summer lunches for kids and serving meals on Saturdays.

"We have low income here. We have single parenting here. Crime is high here. We try to do things that were still the church in the heart of community. Let them know that someone does care," Buntyn said.

But now he admits, they need the community to be there for them. He's hoping they can still figure out a way to put together Thanksgiving meals for the homeless and needy families.

"If you want to make a contribution help us out. We need your support and help and most definitely your prayers," he said.

Luckily, he said, the fire did not affect the sanctuary. The church just spent five months renovating it.

If you can help, visit the church on South Wellington Street or call 901-949-0195.